Friday, March 31, 2006

Joy in Fathering

Being a dad is a remarkable process for growth and influence. I think a lot of us get frustrated because we can't win at being a dad. Something in us would like it to be about winning, but it's not a competitive game with our kids.

Look at 3rd John verse 4: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." Let's think about what John is saying here. (Yes, he's talking about about the Christians he's responsible for, not necessarily his physical children. But we dads are about discipling Christians, especially our own children.)

John, the "beloved disciple", knows about suffering, and about joy. No greater joy? Wow!

John does not say, "I have not greater profit" or "I have no greater happiness" or "I've never been given grief by my children."

Note the active, present tense -- 'have' and 'are walking.' This is not joy from past tense work, but current assessment.

Walking is not wandering. John talks about "the" truth, not "a" truth. There is a specific path of discipleship.

What other thoughts do you have?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sobering Economic Charts

This set of charts about our "Frankenstein Economy" in the US is sobering, to say the least.

How should Christians lead in such times? How will be distinctive?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

John Piper Writes from Cambridge

Great Fresh Words letter from John Piper: "How to Respond to Horrifying Sayings of Jesus."
Economic Growth In Iraq

Check out this article about the amazing economic growth in Iraq since 2003. The GDP per capita has doubled, and the Brookings Institute forecasts real GDP growth of 495 in 2006-2008.

Do you think the flax 15% tax rate has anything to do with it?
Remembering Names

I'm pretty bad at remembering names. Ok, I'm really bad at it. I appreciated the tips here.
Real Leaders are People Who Can Make Things Better

Marshall Goldsmith writes eloquently about
Check out the article to get the whole story, it's great.
He concludes with an important point for each of us, men:
"Real leaders are not people who can point out what is wrong. Almost anyone can do that. Real leaders are people who can make things better."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Holiness Manifesto

Men, check out this Holiness Manifesto. I found there is depth here worth considering, and checking your personal (and family) life against.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

More on Raising Boys

Doug Giles continues his series on raising boys. I like the strategy of raising boys who take care and improve what they've been given to manage, and to defend others. This gets you away from jock-or-not, but keeps you in the sphere of tough-and-tender.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Get Tozer-ized!

I've loved reading A.W. Tozer's books for years. They act like that firm 2x4 you need applied to my head, regularly.

So I was delighted to see this quick summary by Todd Rhoades, "Formula for a Burning Heart."

A couple of points really wacked me:

"It is our wretched habit of tolerating sin that keeps us in our half-dead condition."

" There must be a radical change in your habits of there will not be any permanent improvement in your interior life."
Fighting Discouragement

It can be all-too easy to slip into discouragement, even for a little while. I know I've been battling it recently.

Our good and gracious God sends me lots of reading to remind me of His faithfulness. And that's the key, I believe, to overcoming discouragement -- remember God's past work, ongoing promises, and the future He has planned for us. Jeremy Taylor writes "It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers that his Helper is omnipotent." Discouragement is spiritual amnesia. As Mark Batterson points out, "So Far, So God." That's the fact too focus on, men.
Leadership Longevity

I know many of the readers of this blog are in leadership positions in their local church. Check out this excellent set of ideas from Ray Glider for building lasting ministry.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


From March 20 Fortune magazine:

"The peoples of the earth sent and received 400,000 terabytes of information by email in 2002, according to research by the University of California at Berkeley's School of Information Management and Systems. That's equivalent to the print collections of 40,000 Libraries of Congress. (And that was measured way back in 2002; the quantity has only grown since.) "

Phone calls in 2002? 17 million terabytes of data.

Now we should distinguish knowledge from data, and communication from transmission, but even so.... W-o-w.

Men, let's keep teaching our kids how to manage the glut of information available, and discern what's truth, what's useful. So we need to be learning this first.
What Would an Atheist Think about Your Church?

Todd Rhodes has an interesting post about an atheist's impressions from visiting Willow Creek. What are the impressions that not-yet believers have about your church?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Keep Moving...Or Die

Apparently sharks have to keep moving or they die. (Apparently there are some places where sharks sleep, but if you come across a sleepin shark in your travels, my advice would be to let it lie.)

Blogs have to keep moving to. Some poor soul has counted how many blogs are started, and how many are still active 6 weeks and 6 months later -- tens of thousands get started, because it's so easy to start, and less than 5% are still active 6 months later.

[Thanks to those of you who write me notes when I don't post something here for a few days. "Where are you? Are you ok? I miss you, please write again soon" messages are very encouraging.]

As Christian husbands and fathers, we need to keep moving, too. Our relationships -- with our heavenly Father, with our wives, with our children, with extended family and neighbors and coworkers -- all need nurturing and action to keep moving. Our study of the Word needs to continue; it's a living Book for us. We need to continue to sharpen the skills and talents we've been given, so that we can continue to serve others well.

If I could speak with you, dear reader, I suspect we'd share at least one thing in common -- a desire to just sit down and procrastinate on what we should be doing. Yes, we need rests, and God has ordained rhythms in life we should pay attention to. But if you're taking a "rest" because you would just rather not think about it for a while, watch out! Take a rest to get back into right relationship with Christ, and because you are looking forward to more and greater service.

My pastor says there are only two kinds of marriages -- those being worked at, and those that aren't. There are only two kinds of sharks -- the moving and the dead. There are only two kinds of Christian men -- those moving forward, learning how to walk in better rhythm with God and with one another, and those lardassians sitting around listening to the wrong whiny voices from their flesh.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Christians Should Feel Complimented

Nice insights from Don Feder: "What really enrages the Hollywood left is the realization that, more than any other group in our society, evangelical Christians—who now constitute the largest voting bloc—stand in the way of its political agenda: abortion on demand, a contraceptive culture, erotic indoctrination masquerading as sex education, universal day care, the complete societal acceptance of homosexuality and hate-crimes legislation that criminalizes religious speech. By attacking Christians, Hollywood is advancing its agenda... Over the past 40 years, Hollywood has been primarily responsible for the rapid degeneration of our culture. Modern cinema is filled with violence, sadism, sex at its most animalistic, crudeness, nihilism and despair. If Hollywood wants to treat Christianity as the antithesis of all it holds dear, Christians should feel complimented."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Teaching Others to Pray

Here's a too-short article about teaching others to pray. I think it would be better titled, "Coaching Prayer Leaders."

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Start Leading Yourself

Bill Hybels' article "The Art of Self-Leadership" is a must-read. I've read a lot of material on leadership, and this is a classic. Don't get hung up if you're not a pastor -- people reading this blog are leaders, and Hybel's counsel does apply.

Print it off, read it twice today. Think about what you need to do differently and start doing it.

Then make a plan to reread it in a month.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Listen to CT Teaching Online!

I strongly encourage you to check out the Cross Trainers teaching, available online. Mike Swaim's March 1 class on Peter is dynamite! The most recent four weeks will be available online, updated every Monday.
What Makes for Church Growth?

Todd Rhodes has a collected some information about the differences between large (growing) and small (not growing) churches. Summary:
-- Growing churches are most likely to be theologically conservative, with members actively participating in ministry, usually with local authority and raising up pastors/staff from within. Oh, it helps a lot to have a pastor who has been there a long time.
Raising Boys

Doug Giles reminds us that God made men to thrive in tough conditions in his column, "Raising Boys that Feminists Will Hate":

"First off, parents, please note that the cradle God created for His firstborn was rough country—a thorny, critter-laden and butt-kicking badland. God wanted His boy brought up in undomesticated surroundings. The feral fashioned something in God’s first boy, Adam, that Xbox, the mall and cell phones just couldn’t provide to the charge under His tutelage.
Yeah, God’s earthy 2IC was directly connected to the Spirit of the Wild. Adam lived in primitive partnership with untamed beasts, birds, big lizards and monster sharks. This is the way it was. And God said, “It is good!” Imagine that: good being equated to having no anti-bacterial gel, no bike helmets, no Trans Fatty acids, no poodles, no motorized scooters, no concrete and no Will and Grace. I know this doesn’t sound like “paradise” for postmodern pantywaists that are immoral, lazy, stupid and fat, but it was God’s—and His primitive son’s—idea of “Yippee Land.”
American Manhood

W. Thomas Smith, Jr. writes about his confidence in American Manhood, based on what he sees in school wrestling and football season. I appreciated what Smith says about developing heart and head - the combination of passion, bravery, and patience to wait for the right time to act. This is congruent with what I've learned from retired members of our special forces -- only those with strong moral character and enormous self-control are able to perform at that level, under pressure.

May every husband and father take this to heart.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Music is Not Neutral

Those of you who are interested in worship and music should read this blog post by Todd Rhoades, "Is Music Really Neutral?"
Don't Get Stuck in Haran

Pastor David Anderson reminds us not to settle for less than what God has called us to.

In Genesis 11, Terah, the father of Abram, sets out from Ur to go the land of Canaan. But along the way he settled in Haran and stopped short of his call to get to Canaan.

"Some of us have set out for the land of ministry, but we've settled for the land of church activity."

Let's ask ourselves today, men, "How am I doing? Where have I settled for less than God's calling?"
Do You Have Michaelangelo's Attitude?

When he was 87 years old, Michaelangelo said "Ancora imparo," which means, "I am still learning."

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Problem with Building Insular Communities

Tom Monaghan is spending several hundred million dollars to create Ave Maria, an entirely Catholic community near Naples, Florida. A cathedral will be at the center of the city, and you won't be able to buy pornography or birth control there.

It's a human tendency to surround ourselves with people "just like us," to keep out the bad people, and to create gated communities. Christians like to create Christian ghettos. You can look at the Christian ad books and pretty much shop for every item and service you need, only at businesses run by Christians.

Jesus didn't promote insular community building. He said "Go" not huddle. He tells us that we are salt and light in the midst of the world, in the world but not of it. Ave Maria and Christian ghettos may be comfortable, but they're not our calling, men.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What Would Jesus Preach In Your Church?

Jim Martin asks this question, and draws his answer from the Gospel accounts of how Jesus interacted with religious leaders.
You do not evaluate your lives the way I do. I am more concerned about whether
or not these people love God and people than anything else.
You do not evaluate your church the way I do. I am more concerned about you being my presence in this community rather than whether or not you may be happy with the way things are going.
You do not evaluate spiritual maturity the way I do.
Some of you have been Christians for a very long time. You need to be more
mindful of the younger and less mature. Some of you have been Christians for a
lesser amount of time. You need to be grateful that your forefathers pointed you
to me. All of you need to remember that the bottom line is loving God and loving
the people who you interact with.
You do not evaluate truth the way I do.
Sermon messages are not good if they seem to pass the popularity contest. There
were times when I spoke and people walked away, wanting nothing more to do with
You do not ask the right questions. You need to be asking in your families, in your church meetings, and among your leadership these questions: "What does Jesus want us to do? What would he do? What do we know about him that might help us know what to do?"

Read the whole thing here.